Reports Indicate Smooth Holiday Travel Season At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

FAA Data & Massive Infrastructure Improvements Make Clear DCA Has Capacity To Add More Flights & Lower Costs For Air Travelers

Washington, D.C. – The Capital Access Alliance (CAA), a coalition of transportation and business leaders from Virginia and around the country seeking to make air travel to and from Washington, D.C. more accessible and affordable, highlighted reports that holiday travel at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) went smoothly this season, even as experts predicted record-setting numbers of travelers. These reports undercut at best misleading arguments made by opponents of modernizing the outdated perimeter rule, backed by United Airlines, who used the busy holiday travel season as a reason not to add more flights at DCA and improve affordable access to the national capital region. 


“The 2023 holiday season will be defined by record air travel, with more than 7.5 million Americans expected to travel by air between December 23, 2023 and January 1, 2024. This is AAA’s highest projection ever and exceeds the pre-pandemic travel record of 7.3 million travelers. This surge in travel will be felt in the skies and on the ground in the Washington area, where almost double the usual amount of traffic, delays, and congestion are expected,” claimed The Coalition to Protect Regional Airports, a group backed by United Airlines.


WUSA 9 (Washington, D.C.) reported:

The departure boards are really good. Everything on time here that we’re seeing departing out of DCA and the security lines are continuing to move as expected… It shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes or so according to the estimated wait time here.”

DC News Now also reported:

“Saturday [December 23] marked the start of the long holiday travel season – but, it was hard to tell at Reagan National Airport.

“‘I thought it was going to be jam-packed,’ said Kizzy Dogan of Washington, D.C. as she flew to Miami to catch a cruise for the holidays.

“Waiting was not an issue outside the airport terminal, nor inside as people made their way to their flights.”

Recent infrastructure improvements at DCA, including the $1 billion Project Journey, were undertaken specifically to accommodate the airport’s passenger growth – and by all accounts, these investments are seemingly accomplishing their intended goal. Meanwhile, a recent study found that both DCA and Dulles International Airport (IAD) are among the best and most reliable airports in the country for on-time arrivals and departures.

“My family and I were among many in the DMV region who flew through DCA this holiday season and compared to much more crowded airports in other parts of the country, it was a very pleasant experience,” CAA spokesman and Northern Virginia resident Brian Walsh said today. “There is no question that DCA’s billion-dollar terminal expansion has significantly improved the passenger experience, particularly with quick-moving security lines.  Unfortunately, travelers to and from the Capital region continue to face some of the highest airline ticket prices in the country because of an arbitrary 1960s-era regulation. There is no question that DCA has the capacity to add more flights, so the question is whether Congress will stand with consumers or side with one big airline that currently benefits from the status quo.”

Although passengers enjoyed smooth holiday travel this season, the fact remains that the 1960s-era perimeter rule is not keeping up with today’s air travel demand. Congress has until March to pass the FAA Reauthorization bill, and there is strong bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate to add a modest number of flights at DCA as part of the package. Approving these flights will help boost competition in the Washington, D.C. air travel market and lower airfare for consumers. 

About CAA

CAA consists of diverse members from around the country and various industries, including transportation, general business groups, the small business sector, entrepreneurs and job creators, organizations focused on economic development and leaders in the civic and policy communities. 

Learn more about Capital Access Alliance HERE.